Shaping together the circular economy for nonwovens

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This article is part of our special report Nonwovens target more sustainable future.

Chances are you have never heard of nonwovens before, but you are surrounded by them at this very moment; in the seat underneath you, the suit you’re wearing, as part of the insulation or roofing of your home or workplace, the filters in your car and the diapers your baby wears. 

EDANA is the leading global association and voice of the nonwovens and related industries.

Nonwovens are present in a range of products of everyday life, where they perform crucial functions contributing to comfort and convenience. As a responsive and responsible sector, circularity is one of the driving forces for innovation in this rather unknown industry.

Nonwoven manufacturers, their suppliers and converters are increasingly focused on finding circular economy solutions. To this end, EDANA, the Brussels based nonwovens industry association, is organising a Circular Nonwovens Forum. Creating sustainable, circular nonwoven-based products starts with the right selection of raw materials. The first edition of the Circular Nonwovens Forum will therefore cover how raw material providers are working on circular economy solutions.

The Nonwovens Circular Economy aims at improving the dialogue and keep ongoing conversation between the nonwovens industry and external stakeholders on circularity. To this end, two moderated break-out sessions are organised, one covering the presentations by Dow and Borealis and another on the presentation by Mérieux and Birla.

The forum will open with a keynote speech on the European Commission’s  new Circular Economy Action plan given by Paola Migliorini, the Deputy Head of Unit for Sustainable Production, Products & Consumption. This will be followed by a range of insightful presentations and discussions covering initiatives to address the circularity of AHP plastic waste,  the biodegradability and compostability of nonwovens, material innovations, and developments in renewable polypropylene.

Nonwovens are innovative, high-tech, engineered fabrics made from fibres.  They are used in a wide range of consumer and industrial products either in combination with other materials or alone.  Nonwovens are designed for their specific application, ranging from thin, light weight nonwovens to strong and durable nonwovens, be it consumer or industrial applications. The combination of their specific characteristics through the raw materials selection, the formation and bonding methods used or the applied finishing treatments, such as printing, embossing, laminating etc. allow to deliver high-performance products.

Nonwovens may be a limited-life, single-use fabric or a very durable fabric. According to the use they provide specific functions such as absorbency, liquid repellency, resilience, stretch, softness, strength, flame retardancy, washability, cushioning, filtering, bacterial barriers and much more. These properties are often combined to create fabrics suited for specific jobs while achieving a good balance between product use-life and cost. They can mimic the appearance, texture and strength of a woven fabric, and can be as bulky as the thickest paddings. Innovations in nonwoven fabrics are growing as rapidly as the demand for them, with almost unlimited possibilities for a wide variety of industries, from agriculture to automotive and construction to childcare.

Today EDANA unifies the diversified interests of over 295 member companies from 36 countries in a unique vertically integrated structure along the supply chain. Based in Brussels, EDANA reflects and caters to the changing dynamics and priorities of the nonwovens industry, acting as the voice representing and actively promoting the common interests of nonwovens and their related industries throughout the world, with a particular focus on Europe, Middle East and Africa.

In its recent sustainability report, the association shows the many results of the commitment of the industry to sustainability. EDANA is proud to see how sustainable practices drive innovation in creating new products and solutions towards the many challenges our industry is facing. As representatives of the entire value chain, EDANA considers it its duty to connect and support all of its members. Therefore, EDANA had developed a new Sustainability Vision 2030, hereby giving clear insight into the priority topics on sustainability for our industry. The vision combines the most prominent materiality topics of the materiality matrix with key SDGs for the industry. This results in four key areas clustering twelve materiality themes. Each key area is illustrated by a clear ambition. The Vision aligns our industries’ priorities and as such, allows to collectively head in the same direction. It acts as a useful guideline to help industry members identify their priorities and further develop their own sustainability strategy.

To learn more about nonwovens and actions the industry is undertaking, you can visit the or follow the campaign “Nonwovens you say?”

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